Why not enjoy your favorite spring bulbs all winter long?
With a little extra attention, you can grow many bulbs indoors.
While paperwhites and amaryllis are ready to plant and grow,
all other bulbs must be cooled to fulfill their winter dormancy
requirements before they will flower. This cooling process
is often called “forcing” and is intended to mimic
the action of nature outdoors.
Choose a pot shallow and wide enough to hold several bulbs.
Fill the pot halfway with stones or other coarse material,
set the bulbs in root side down, then fill the container with
fine stones, sand, light potting mix or other material until
the bulbs are about two-thirds covered. The bulbs already
contain all the nutrients needed to bloom once, and too rich
a soil may cause them to rot. Water up to the base of the
bulbs. Or use a hyacinth glass: Fill with water to the base
of the bulb, and do not let it get dry.
After watering, cover the pot with plastic, punch a few holes
for circulation, and place in the fridge (this works well
because the temperature is consistent, just be sure to keep
the bulbs away from fruit). Or, place them in a garage, unheated
basement, root cellar, outdoors covered with 6-8" of
leaves and earth, or other dark place at 35-40°F. The
bulbs will not be hurt by light frost but will be harmed by
heat or a hard freeze.
weeks of: cooling
|Anemone, Crocus, Chionodoxa, Galanthus, Leucojum, Scilla
|Iris reticulata, Muscari, Narcissus (divs 5-8, 12)
|Hyacinthus. Narcissus (divs 1-4, 9, 11), Tulipa
The bulbs are ready when
you can see roots at the bottom of the pot, and leaf tips
are beginning to emerge. Bring the bulbs into a cool area
(50-65°F) with plenty of indirect light to encourage leaf
growth. Too much heat at this point will cause premature flowering;
do not place near radiators or wood stoves. Keep the soil
moist, but do not overwater.
When 3-5" of leaf growth
has appeared, bring the pots into direct light to encourage
flowering. Once blooms have appeared, remove pots from direct
sun to keep blooms from fading quickly.
Plant forced bulbs out in
the garden in spring, or let them go dormant in their pots
and plant them in fall. They will not force well a second
time. The bulbs may not blossom until the 2nd spring after
they were planted outdoors.